Northern cattle stations bunker down ahead of the monsoon
By Carmen Brown
As the first monsoon storms of the season approach northern Australia, beef producers Wendy Kozicka and Vince Bowyer are preparing for what could become months of isolation.
The couple manage Australia’s most northern pastoral property, Bramwell Station, a cattle and tourism operation near Lockhart River on Cape York Peninsula.
It is an area which receives an average rainfall of 2,100 millimetres per year, and during the wet, access is regularly cut by swollen rivers and boggy tracks.
I order a fair bit, because when the roads open they don’t hold trucks up, so we have to buy enough to cover us until the end of May.
Wendy Kozicka, Bramwell Station
Ms Kozicka said while the homestead can be isolated for extended periods, the rainy season is generally a peaceful and relaxing time on the station.
"Between one and three months is not unusual for the roads to be closed," she said.
"It’s a really nice time, we take the four-wheelers out and occasionally go fishing.
"But we do a lot of little jobs around the house, cleaning the outside, just little jobs to please ourselves and catch up on the year really."
A large monsoonal storm dumped more than 130 millimetres of rain around the Darwin region over the past 48 hours, delivering the city’s wettest New Year’s Day on record.
While parts of north Queensland also recorded decent falls this week, Ms Kozicka says most pastoralists are still eagerly waiting for the big monsoon downpours.
"It’s really dry, we’ve only had 60 millimetres so far, and that was halfway through December," she said.
"So we’re hoping the monsoon will not be too far away, but it doesn’t feel like it much at the moment."
She says wet season preparations are now complete on the station, with plenty of food and fuel stored away for the coming months.
"We normally line-up our purchases in October/November, and get them here by early December," she said.
"I order a fair bit, because when the roads open they don’t hold trucks up, so we have to buy enough to cover us until the end of May.
"We still carry tins and dry food, and we can carry a fair bit of frozen because we have 24 hour power here.
"So it’s a mixture, we get some fresh on the mail plane every couple of weeks or so as well, a box or two."